Реферат: Herman Melville Essay Research Paper Melville Herman

Herman Melville Essay, Research Paper

Melville, Herman (1819-91), an American Novelist, is widely regarded as one of

America’s greatest and most influential novelists; known primarily as the author

of Moby Dick. He belonged to a group of eminent pre-Civil War writers-American

Romantics or members of the American Renaissance-who created a new and vigorous

national literature. He is one of the notable examples of an American author

whose work went largely unrecognized in his own time and died in obscurity.

American novelist, a major literary figure whose exploration of psychological

and metaphysical themes foreshadowed 20th-century literary concerns but whose

works remained in obscurity until the 1920s, when his genius was finally

recognized. Melville was born August 1, 1819, in New York City, into a family

that had declined in the world. The Gansevoorts were solid, stable, eminent,

prosperous people; the (Hermans Fathers side) Melvilles were somewhat less

successful materially, possessing an unpredictable. erratic, mercurial strain. (Edinger

6). This difference between the Melvilles and Gansevoorts was the beginning of

the trouble for the Melville family. Hermans mother tried to work her way up the

social ladder by moving into bigger and better homes. While borrowing money from

the bank, her husband was spending more than he was earning. It is my conclusion

that Maria Melville never committed herself emotionally to her husband, but

remained primarily attached to the well off Gansevoort family. (Humford 23)

Allan Melville was also attached financially to the Gansevoorts for support.

There is a lot of evidence concerning Melvilles relation to his mother Maria

Melville. Apparently the older son Gansevoort who carried the mother’s maiden

name was distinctly her favorite. (Edinger 7) This was a sense of alienation the

Herman Melville felt from his mother. This was one of the first symbolists to

the Biblical Ishamel. In 1837 he shipped to Liverpool as a cabin boy. Upon

returning to the U.S. he taught school and then sailed for the South Seas in

1841 on the whaler Acushnet. After an 18 month voyage he deserted the ship in

the Marquesas Islands and with a companion lived for a month among the natives,

who were cannibals. He escaped aboard an Australian trader, leaving it at

Papeete, Tahiti, where he was imprisoned temporarily. He worked as a field

laborer and then shipped to Honolulu, Hawaii, where in 1843 he enlisted as a

seaman on the U.S. Navy frigate United States. After his discharge in 1844 he

began to create novels out of his experiences and to take part in the literary

life of Boston and New York City. Melville’s first five novels all achieved

quick popularity. Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life (1846), Omoo, a Narrative of

Adventures in the South Seas (1847), and Mardi (1849) were romances of the South

Sea islands. Redburn, His First Voyage (1849) was based on his own first trip to

sea, and White-Jacket, or the World in a Man-of-War (1850) fictionalized his

experiences in the navy. In 1850 Melville moved to a farm near Pittsfield,

Massachusetts, where he became an intimate friend of Nathaniel Hawthorne, to

whom he dedicated his masterpiece Moby-Dick; or The White Whale (1851). The

central theme of the novel is the conflict between Captain Ahab, master of the

whaler Pequod, and Moby-Dick, a great white whale that once tore off one of

Ahab’s legs at the knee. Ahab is dedicated to revenge; he drives himself and his

crew, which includes Ishmael, narrator of the story, over the seas in a

desperate search for his enemy. The body of the book is written in a wholly

original, powerful narrative style, which, in certain sections of the work,

Melville varied with great success. The most impressive of these sections are

the rhetorically magnificent sermon delivered before sailing and the soliloquies

of the mates; lengthy flats, passages conveying nonnarrative material, usually

of a technical nature, such as the chapter about whales; and the more purely

ornamental passages, such as the tale of the Tally-Ho, which can stand by

themselves as short stories of merit. The work is invested with Ishmael’s sense

of profound wonder at his story, but nonetheless conveys full awareness that

Ahab’s quest can have but one end. And so it proves to be: Moby-Dick destroys

the Pequod and all its crew save Ishmael. There is a certain streak of the

supernatural being projected in the writings of Melville, as is amply obvious in

Moby Dick. The story revolves around the idea of an awesome sea mammal, which

drives the passions of revenge in one man and forces him to pursue a course of

action which leads ultimately to his death as well as the deaths of his

companions. There is a great deal of imagination involved in these stories and

the creativity is highly apparent. There is an expression of belief in the

supernatural, as the author strives to create the image of a humongous beast in

the mind of the reader. There are no indications that Melville was in any way

averse to fame or to the pursuit of excellence in his work. Every author, when

writing a book, is hopeful of its success and Melville was no less. The Piazza

Tales (1856) contain some of Melville’s finest shorter works; particularly

notable are the powerful short stories Benito Cereno and Bartleby the Scrivener

and the ten descriptive sketches of the Galбpagos Islands, Ecuador, The

Encantadas. Bartleby’s story is an allegory of withdrawal suggesting more than

one level of interpretation. Among them, Bartleby may be seen as a writer (like

Melville), who chooses no longer to write; or as a human walled off from society

by his employment on wall Street, by the walls of his building, by the barriers

of his office nook within the building, by the brick surface he faces out his

window, and by the walls of the prison where he dies. Bartleby’s employer, the

narrator of the story, has several walls of his own to break out of. In his

final grasp at communication, the narrator invites the reading that Bartleby’s

life, and the story that presents it, are like dead letters that will never

reach those that would profit from them. He leaves us with the words, «Ah

Bartleby! Ah, humanity!» In «Bartleby, the Scrivener», Melville

tries to relate to the reader and explain his declining situation. This story,

on an allegorical level represents Melville, his life, and what he wished his

reading audience would understand about him. This is probably what he wanted,

but readers, initially, see a melancholy story about the condition of humanity.

Whether or not Melville is an anti-transcendentalist is a question to be

pondered over. As such he is as focused on leaving an impression on his readers

as any other writer on the writing block. Therefore, I believe that Melville was

transcendental in many ways. He was a writer who portrayed his own persona

through his writings and thus he was a writer who had the power to be able to

express his own emotions and experiences through his characters. This he has

accomplished by writing stories, which had a depth, an essence of their own.

Melville was not o much concerned with the commercial success of his works, but

that was still a very high contributing factor to the motivation behind his

writings. Although he mainly drew on his personal experiences while formulating

the stories that he wrote, he greatly embellished them through his imagination

and creativity to create literary masterpieces out of them, which are

appreciated greatly today. Being a success meant a great deal to Melville and he

was always aware of the fact that his books were not very popular during his

lifetime. In fact Bartleby the Scrivener relates to this very fact through its

portrayal of a writer, and it is greatly reflective of Melvilles own private

situation. He probably wished that his writing would be more popular among the

readers, although he professed his own demise with Bartleby’s atrophy. The

expression of accepted failure was prevalent in Scrivener. Yet this did not make

Melville any less desirous of fame and popularity. He still strove to deliver

excellence in his works in any way possible. Every writer in history has had to

find a place for himself in the mind of his readers before reaching a level of

maturity and respect in this profession. The quality of work is judged solely on

the readers perception of the work and nothing else. Melville was desirous of

hitting the right cord with the readers and his audience. He wanted to be able

to capture the attention of his audience and leave an impact on their minds, so

that the tale would be remembered long after it had been read. With Moby Dick,

he used the powerful tool of imaginative fantasy to capture the attention of his

readers. The story incorporated the extraordinary, action, adventure, revenge,

suspense…in fact every ingredient necessary for commercial success. But it

didnt prove to be so. The book is appreciated not as a classic work and Melville

has received much more fame in the present time frame. In Scrivener, he drew a

picture of a man very similar to himself. A man sick of working, finally

declines rapidly to reach his demise. However, in Herman Melville’s ‘Benito

Cereno’ reveals the author’s disgust with Emersonian transcendentalism through

the self-delusions of the protagonist. Cereno personifies nature, seeing it as a

benevolent force that acts deliberately for the good of humanity. Melville makes

it apparent that such idealism offers no practical use in a world that is as

much evil as good, and will likely be a burden. Cereno is Melville’s strongest

example of his suspicions for the American idealist. In this one case through

his expression of disgust towards the idealists and their idealism, he has

portrayed the image of a hard core idealist who is converted to a realist

through the experiences that he goes through. This also drew on his seafaring

days as experience and he struggled to bring across the death of the idealist

and the birth of the realist. But at the end of the day, whatever emotions he

possessed about the nature of idealism and idealistic thought, still form an

integral part of him. Whether or not the reader understands the general aura of

wanting to achieve something from his creations, yet Melville still strove to be

a commercial success and his aim for excellence in the field of writing



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